Edinburgh-based ACT Blade Ltd – a spin-off company from yacht-sail developer SMAR Azure — has completed the first of two static tests of its novel lightweight blade for wind farms at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.
The tests are designed to pave the way for the blade’s first operational deployment later this year.
Featuring an internal composite structure and high-tech textiles, ACT’s blades can be made 10% longer than the standard 55m fibre glass blades commonly used by the renewable-energy industry and are 24% lighter.
As a result, they can produce 9% more energy and “reduce the cost of electricity by 6.7%”.
The test took place over a three-week period using a 13m-long blade; it withstood the world’s toughest simulation of offshore wind conditions, which pushed its structural integrity and durability to the limit.
Post-test inspections verified that it had held its shape with no damage.
The test data — including optically measured strain and deflection results from within the blade textile
— are now being analyzed to gain a fuller understanding of its behavior.
The new blade concept was based upon the realization that the light durable structure of yacht sails could be adapted for offshore wind turbine blades.
ACT Blade CEO Sabrina Malpede said: “I realized that the offshore wind industry was engaged in the same race as we were in the yacht-racing world — we need to reduce loads and capture more wind power without compromising on durability.
“I am delighted that after three projects funded by Innovate UK, we have proven our concept.
“I would like to thank all our partners who have made this breakthrough possible, including the ORE Catapult, the Advanced Materials Research Centre, the Advanced Forming Research Centre, the Energy Technology Centre (ETC) and InnoEnergy.”
Over the next six months, ACT Blade will work with the ETC to prepare for the installation of three blades on a working wind turbine at the Myres Hill Wind Farm in Scotland, taking a further step towards commercialization.